Graphic display specialist Leach has today announced that the company has been acquired by French-owned Chargeurs, a global manufacturing and services group based in 34 countries on five continents and with leading positions in four segments – temporary surface protection, garment interlinings, technical substrates and combed wool – for an undisclosed sum.
This global leader has a long-established relationship with the team, having supplied the Pearl material used in Leach’s widely-acclaimed lightboxes, for the last seven years.
And the worldwide presence of the business – not to mention an equally impressive company legacy dating back more than 140 years – meant that Chargeurs was the perfect brand to take Leach forward with its next chapter of international growth.
Managing director Richard Leach today issued a statement explaining the time and thought that has gone into finding the right investor for the company’s onward journey.
“Having experienced 10 consecutive years of expansion, a key part of our long-term strategy was to evaluate opportunities to build upon our reputation and legacy, on a global scale,” he said. “We are very proud of our 127-year old heritage, and we do not want to shy away from that, but we’ve long known that we are still structured like a family-run business. This operating model does not support the level of next-step growth that we know we are capable of achieving, so we started evaluating the option to sell. But we have taken great care in choosing the new owner.
“Chargeurs is a €533m turnover business of which more than 90% was generated outside France, based on five continents and an unparalleled understanding of the market on a global scale. Established in 1872 they also have similar values to Leach in terms of quality, innovation and culture. The fit seems very natural, so we are therefore delighted to have reached the position where we can make this acquisition announcement today.”
With the financial backing of this global group, Leach is now able to turn its 16-hour per day operation into a 24-hour business. Richard also already has his sights set on further product development.
“We typically invest a quarter of a million pounds per year into innovation and new product development,” he said. “But with the financial resources and international knowledge of the Chargeurs team – combined with our own – we have an even greater platform to launch new display products for retail, brand and visitor environments.
“By creating more of a closed loop business model with the supplier of our best-selling print material, we can also offer even sharper response times, which should give us a more distinct competitive edge in the marketplace.”
When asked if anything will change on a day-to-day basis, Richard concluded: “In truth, it’s business as normal at Leach’s West Yorkshire headquarters. We’re maintaining the same offices, the same team, and the same brand. What the acquisition does mean, however, is that we have better access to investment, and the global markets we wish to target.”
Leach was founded in 1891 by Richard Leach’s great-grandfather, only two miles down the road from its current headquarters. The company began life as a one-man photographic studio and has grown to become a 100-strong business with over 500 customers and an annual turnover of £11m.
With a global customer portfolio spreading over 80 countries – including the world’s leading luxury fashion houses – the Chargeurs group has plans to double its turnover to €1bn in the next five years.
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Picture above: Leach CEO Richard Leach and Chargeurs Director of International Development Sampiero Lanfranchi shake hands on the deal, flanked by Senior Managers from both companies.